Prosecution of Adult Felony Defendants in Los Angeles County

A Policy Perspective

by Peter W. Greenwood, Sorrel Wildhorn, Eugene C. Poggio, M. J. Strumwasser, Peter DeLeon


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Statistical performance measures, such as complaint rejection rates, dismissal rates, and jury conviction rates, are calculated to show the basic pattern of dispositions county-wide, including relationships among methods of disposition, defendant's prior record, and sentence severity. Background sources of differences in treatment of defendants, such as race, type of defense counsel, and pretrial custody status, are explored, as well as differences that can be attributed to variations in policies among police agencies, District Attorney branches, courts, or individual judges. Large disparities are shown to exist within the county in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion and in the disposition of adult felony defendants. No objective performance measures are consistently applied by criminal justice administrators to evaluate the performance of their employees or policies, nor does any information system or data source currently exist to provide administrators with the data needed for such evaluations.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.